Chapter 2:
The 3D eCommerce Maturity Model (How to get Started with 3D eCommerce)

An eCommerce maturity model is a framework for mapping stages of eCommerce technology adoption to assess where you are and what your next steps should be. Applied to 3D technology, a 3D eCommerce maturity model gives you a roadmap for identifying where you are in your adoption of VR and AR and what you should do next to get to where you want to be.

There are several approaches to eCommerce maturity models. In general, a maturity model charts steps from basic to advanced adoption. For example:

  • Stage 0: You don’t have any 3D assets or digital twins of your products available. 
  • Stage 1: You have 3D models of your products available (for design and production use) but they are not in the appropriate format or size for use in eCommerce or other marketing channels.
  • Stage 2: You have optimized 3D models of your products available, but you haven’t yet incorporated 3D, VR, or AR into your eCommerce strategy.
  • Stage 3: You’ve started using basic 3D, VR, or AR eCommerce applications, but they’re not yet a significant part of your operations.
  • Stage 3: You’ve integrated 3D, VR, or AR into a single marketing channel and are using it to increase sales.
  • Stage 5: You’ve developed 3D, VR, and AR best practices and applied them across multiple marketing channels throughout your operations.
  • Stage 6: You’re using big data and AI to optimize your 3D eCommerce deployment and deliver personalized 3D, VR, and AR experiences customized for individual buyers.
  • Stage 7: You’ve mastered 3D eCommerce to a point where you’re developing innovations that give you a cutting edge over competitors.

A 3D eCommerce maturity model can look different for organizations of different sizes. The stages of adoption for an individual marketer can be less complex than those for a team within a department or an inter-departmental initiative.

To leverage a 3D eCommerce maturity model to drive your 3D eCommerce strategy, start by conducting a review of your operations to assess where you are in different places where you could be or already are applying 3D and AR. Next, identify which maturity stage you would like to reach next in each area over a given period, such as the next quarter or year. Then set goals and establish KPIs to define some objectives. Finally, plan and implement action steps to achieve your goals.

3D Applications for Product Development, Sales, and Revenue Streams

3D can be applied to a number of areas throughout your organization and operations. Some of the most important include product development, sales and revenue stream expansion.

3D Can Accelerate Product Development

Incorporating VR and AR can increase the efficiency of your production, speeding up product development and reducing costs. When evaluating your 3D eCommerce maturity, consider whether production might be an area to include.

Early in the product lifecycle, 3D can be used to test-market virtual versions of product designs, helping ensure alignment between what your market wants and the direction of your development. This allows you to test a large number of products on a large sample of hundreds or thousands of prospective buyers, rather than just a handful of physical products and a few dozen testers as with traditional product development.

Moreover, your testing turnaround time can be significantly reduced, with same-day results in some cases. Add the fact that virtual testing reduces your carbon footprint, and the result can be major savings.

3D can also help your production process when you’re ready to sell products. If your business model allows customers to submit personalized specs when ordering a product, you can use 3D technology to provide virtual previews of products and assist customers with their selection. This helps you ensure customer satisfaction, reducing returns while boosting customer retention.

3D Can Improve Marketing and Sales Conversion Rates

A critical area for evaluating 3D eCommerce maturity is marketing and sales. Using VR and AR can increase both marketing and sales conversion rates by boosting customer engagement and providing a more realistic, more persuasive buying experience. Incorporating 3D ad technologies such as Google Swirl and Facebook 3D Posts can triple customer engagement, increase exposure time by a third and raise intent to purchase. VR and AR tools can double conversion rates, while increasing cart size by as much as 60% and reducing returns by 40%. When assessing your 3D eCommerce maturity, consider whether you could be using VR and AR to increase your marketing and sales conversion rates.

3D Can Open up New Revenue Streams

3D technology also can boost your sales by creating new opportunities for revenue streams. For example, limited edition digital designs can be offered as NFTs or 3D assets. Brands that have increased their revenue in this way include Louis Vuitton with its League of Legends collection and Balenciaga with its Fortnite collaboration. These types of items can command a high premium. When assessing your 3D eCommerce maturity, consider whether developing 3D product lines could expand your revenue opportunities.

3D eCommerce Maturity in B2B

If you’re using a B2B sales model, there are several items that you might want to include in your evaluation of your 3D eCommerce maturity:

  • 3D line sheets: Web-based 3D line sheets make it easy to share a link with all pertinent information about products and services. You can store and share 3D line sheets for internal use and collaboration or for external b2b sales use cases. Brands like Nordstrom have used 3D digital line sheets successfully in their wholesale purchasing process. 
  • Virtual showrooms: With 3D interactive environments, you can provide clients with realistic opportunities to experience and test products. Virtual showrooms usually are built with game engines (such as Unity or Unreal).
  • 3D prototyping: 3D technology can allow you to replace physical prototypes with virtual ones. This can reduce your cost and increase your speed to market while lowering your carbon footprint and helping your brand achieve its sustainability objectives.

Not all these elements will apply to all business models. Review the items relevant to your business model when evaluating your 3D B2B maturity and 3D’s potential impact on your organization.

3D eCommerce Maturity in B2C

If you’re using a B2C eCommerce model, your 3D maturity review might consider a number of elements:

  • Overall eCommerce 3D adoption: What are the steps in your marketing and sales process, and where might VR and AR support your procedures?
  • Social Media: Are you using 3D advertising and 3D organic content on social media?
  • Search engine ads: Are you using 3D ad platforms such as Google Swirl?
  • Metaverse: Are you using the “metaverse” formed by VR and AR communities to generate new revenue streams for your brand?
  • Photoshoots: Are you leveraging the ability of 3D modeling technology to create 2D image and video renders to reduce your photoshoot costs?

These are just a few areas where 3D technology can enhance your B2C business model. Do a thorough review of your operations to maximize the results of your eCommerce maturity evaluation